Thursday, March 4, 2010


Although neither of us felt well, another nurse and I went to spend a few days working at a local Haitian hospital.  Within a few short minutes of witnessing the sickening, unsanitary conditions, we couldn’t contain our plight any longer.  Realizing that we needed to be in bed, the staff directed us past the kitchen to get to the nurses’ dorm.  The stench in the kitchen was awful!  We witnessed the staff plucking feathers from a chicken with as many flies feasting on it as the open wounds in the next room.  A few hours after getting us settled, someone knocked on the door and hospitably offered us homemade chicken soup.  We pretended like we were asleep!


St. Vincent’s was only a few blocks from Haiti’s National Palace.  Two guards were stationed in front of it, one at each end.  Touting their machine guns, they repeatedly and staunchly marched toward one another coming face to face in the middle before returning to their respective positions.  Across from the palace was a tower with one window, large enough for the barrel of a revolving machine gun.  It took some time to get accustomed to crossing city streets with gunners at every corner and women delivering their babies on sidewalks!



 National Palace, 1975.  The Negre Maron statue is a tribute to the first runaway slave.  Haiti, the first black republic, gained independence in 1804.          



National Palace, Haiti.  2010


Fond Parisien:  As I bustled about helping to restore a church building in this village 40 miles east of Port-au-Prince, it seemed that the children followed every step that I took; except to the restroom!  Instead, they would take my hammer and nails and begin to work with them while I was gone, not wanting to give them back when I returned.  Although I did not speak Creole, much was clearly communicated.  They considered the “wealthy” American girl too “honorable” to work! 


Speaking of rest rooms….the place for toileting was behind the work site where there were no stools or privacy walls, only the desert floor and the little lizards that crawled around my feet! 


I was amazed as the little girls swiped their fingers through the wet, bright red paint that we were using on benches and brushed this across their fingernails!  With no access to Glamour magazines, they knew how and desired to adorn their nails! 


One little girl especially enjoyed sitting on my lap so that she could smell my hair!  She repeatedly lifted my long hair to her face, took a deep whiff through her nose and then smiled at me!  The freshness of my shampoo was very foreign to her.  Another little girl repeatedly rubbed her dark little finger across my cheek and then gazed in astonishment that the white wasn’t coming off my face!  She thought it was funny when I did this to her.   


Upon completing the renovation, we held a dedication service.  What a precious experience it was to praise Jesus together, in English and in Creole.  We had made a sign to place above the door as a gift to our brothers and sisters.  The love and appreciation they demonstrated made it difficult to part from them.     


 Dedication service after completion of the church building for our friends in Fond Parisien, Haiti, 1975. 



 A field hospital in Fond Parisien, Haiti, was started lessn than a week after the earthquake hit on Jan. 12, 2010.  Meeting inside a makeshift ofice are doctors from across America.  Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer.    



The home-sickness was so intense that for a few days I experienced strong impressions of never going home or seeing my loved ones again.  Yet, once I was home I longed to return to Haiti.  The compassion in my heart toward those who had so little and needed so much was, at times, more than I could bear.  I wondered if my few days with them made any impact whatever.  There was no doubt that they impacted me for a life-time.  Maybe it’s time to return. 




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